Small Business Tips

Mom & Pop Shops That Made it Big

We all know that every business has to start somewhere. Some boast humble beginnings like Google starting up in a rented garage. Others are more controversial, like Facebook, which began as an online game that ranked people’s hotness before swiping right became normal (Thanks Mark Zuckerberg).

Every year on March 29, we celebrate National Mom and Pop Day. It’s only fitting we give praise to the mom and pop shops that made it to the big time. Here’s to the movers and shakers who now make more money in one day than you make in an entire year.

1. Nike

First up, Nike. Legend has it that the company’s first patented sole was inspired by a breakfast food. No, we’re not kidding.

Co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman first invested $500 each to import Japanese sneakers in 1964. in 1971, Bowerman, who was a track and field coach, thought the pattern from his wife’s waffle iron would make for a great running shoe. So just like that, Nike raced to the top of its game with an annual revenue of over $30M. Moral of the story? Maybe waffles are the true breakfast of champions.

2. Ben & Jerry’s

Do you know how much it cost for Ben (Cohen) and Jerry (Greenfield) to learn how to make ice cream? $5 for a correspondence course in ice-cream making at Penn State. That’s just the tip of the ice cream cone.

Ben and Jerrys ice cream
Ben and Jerry took a $5 class on how to make ice cream.

The two opened their first parlor in a broken-down gas station in Vermont. Their business training came from $0.20 brochures distributed by the Small Business Administration. Stack up those initial investments to a $500M ice cream empire in 35 countries today. Those tongue-in-cheek flavors aren’t sounding so funny now, are they?

3. Whole Foods

It might not like being labeled as “Whole Paycheck,” but Whole Foods is bagging around $3B per year. “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” first opened its doors in Austin, Texas back in 1978. After merging with another small store, the grocer suffered a major flood that nearly drowned its chances.

Whole Foods store flood
It took 28 days for Whole Foods Market to reopen after a flood at its store.

What seemed like a recipe for disaster turned out to be a fresh start. With the help of friendly customers and neighbors, the company restocked and reopened 28 days later as Whole Foods Market. The supermarket now sells natural and organic foods in the U.S., up north in Canada and across the pond in the UK.

4. Mattel

Just about every little girl grew up playing make-believe with her beloved Barbie doll. The blonde-hair, blue-eyed figurine has donned many new shapes, hairstyles and careers since it first stepped foot onto the scene at the 1959 New York Toy Fair.

Mattel Barbie doll
Barbie was named after Barbara, a little girl whose mother had a big imagination.

Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, noticed her daughter, Barbara, often making up imaginary jobs while playing with her paper dolls. So she created Barbie – a three-dimensional teenage fashion model (and future role model), breaking glass ceilings and turning Mattel into a household name. Get it, girl!

5. Overnight Prints

Finally, the biggest page-turner of all! Back when e-commerce was still in its infancy, Overnight Prints co-founder Brett Heap began selling business cards and a few other print products online in 2003.

Original Overnight Prints website
Overnight Prints has been the go-to e-commerce site for entrepreneurs since 2003.

Virtually unrecognizable today, has had some major upgrades over the years! The mission has always remained: Provide the best customer experience and never cut corners when it comes to online ordering. Today, the website allows customers to instantly preview its 32 products before printing with state-of-the-art 3D renderings in 360 degrees. Now one of the largest online printers in the world, Overnight Prints has become an essential provider of business marketing materials for fellow entrepreneurs.

From one small business to another, we’re here to help you grow. Shop for all your print marketing needs.

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